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What Is A Seller’s Pre-Inspection And Should You Get One?

April 27, 2024 6-Minute Read

Author: Jamie Johnson

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When preparing to sell your home, you likely have a variety of tasks on your plate – from hiring a real estate agent or REALTOR® to determining a competitive sale price. Some sellers may take the additional step of getting their home pre-inspected before listing it on the housing market.

While it’s not always necessary, a pre-listing inspection may help you identify any potential issues with your property before the buyer orders the home inspection. Whether you should get a pre-inspection or not comes down to your specific needs as a seller.

What Is A Seller’s Pre-Inspection?

If you’re looking to sell your house, you may want to get ahead of the buyer’s home inspection by having your home inspected before you list it. A pre-inspection, often called a pre-listing inspection, can reveal any potential problems with the property and alert you to any necessary home repairs.

Once the inspection is complete, you can include the report in your home listing to help your home stand out to potential buyers. However, you may also have to disclose potentially harmful or unfavorable findings.

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How Does A Pre-Listing Home Inspection Work?

Whether you get your home pre-inspected or the buyer requests an inspection, it will be carried out by a professional home inspector. The key distinction between the seller’s and buyer’s inspection is that the seller covers the cost of the pre-listing inspection. Typically, the buyer pays for their inspection once their offer is accepted on a house.

During the pre-inspection, the home inspector performs a thorough evaluation of the home's condition. They examine the home’s systems and look for signs of deterioration. The inspector also looks at critical elements of the house, including:

  • The home’s exterior, including the roof and siding
  • The structure, foundation and framing
  • The windows, walls, doors, ceilings and basement
  • The plumbing and electrical systems
  • The HVAC system (heating, ventilation and air conditioning)
  • The attic and insulation

When the pre-inspection is complete, the home seller receives a report with the inspector’s findings. This can give the seller more time to fix any issues with the home before listing it on the market.

If you want to get your home pre-inspected, your listing agent should be able to refer you to a reputable home inspector. You can also check the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) to find a home inspector in your area.

How Much Does A Seller’s Pre-Inspection Cost?

The average cost of a pre-listing inspection typically falls between $280 – $400. However, the actual cost can vary depending on factors like your location and the size of your house. In some areas, you might find that pre-inspections cost more or less than the national average for full inspections.

You might consider getting quotes from local inspection companies to get a better idea of the cost in your area.

Pros Of Getting A Pre-Inspection

If you’re getting your house ready to sell, there are some benefits to getting a pre-inspection done. Here are some of the pros to consider:

You May Avoid Unpleasant Surprises

A pre-inspection report can help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road. Nobody wants to find out that there’s a plumbing problem or issues with the foundation once you’re under contract and the buyer is ready to close on the property.

By getting a pre-inspection, you can learn about potential problems with your home early on. This information can give you more time to address any issues with the house.

You’ll Be Able To Prioritize Needed Repairs

Most home sellers worry about how their house looks and spend quite a bit of money improving the appearance. But it’s much more costly to repair one of the home’s major systems.

Getting a pre-inspection can help you allocate the costs of selling your home wisely. If you have limited money to spend on home repairs, it may be more important to fix a major plumbing problem than to get the house repainted.

You’ll Have The Opportunity To Make Repairs Yourself

If you have a limited budget, making the home repairs yourself may be the best option. Similarly, if you’re short on time, you might want to start the repairs as soon as possible.

For instance, getting a pre-inspection a year before you plan to list your home can provide a roadmap for any work that needs to be done. This can give you time to plan your work more efficiently. If the repairs successfully correct the issues found, you may not need to disclose them unless the buyer specifically asks about them.

You’ll Make It Harder For Buyers To Negotiate For Discounts

If a problem comes up during the home inspection, buyers will often request a discount on the price. Agreeing to a discount means you’ll make less money on the sale of your home. By addressing any issues ahead of time, you make it harder for buyers to negotiate discounts.

You Can Speed Up The Sales Process

Selling a home can be a time-consuming process. Once you find a buyer, all sorts of issues can come up before you close on the house. Addressing these issues ahead of time can speed up the home buying process significantly.

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Cons Of Getting A Pre-Inspection

Here are some of the downsides you want to consider before getting a pre-inspection.

You Have To Pay For The Pre-Inspection

One disadvantage of getting a pre-inspection before selling a house is the cost associated with it. Sellers are typically responsible for covering the expenses involved in a pre-inspection, which can range in price based on your location and the size of the house.

If the home seller is on a tight budget, the additional cost of the pre-inspection might not be a worthwhile option. Sellers might also not be able to cover the costs of unexpected repairs that are uncovered during the pre-inspection process.

You May Have To Disclose Negative Findings To Buyers

According to the Seller's Disclosure laws, you’re required to provide any details about the home that buyers may find problematic. These laws vary from state to state, but all states require that sellers be upfront about information regarding the condition of the home.

So, if the pre-inspection reveals significant problems with your house, you’re required to include that information in the listing. Negative disclosures could shrink the pool of buyers interested in buying your home.

You Still May Be Surprised By The Buyer’s Home Inspection

Even if you choose to get a pre-inspection, a full home inspection may still be required before you and the buyer close on the house. Certain lenders often require a full inspection as part of the loan approval process to ensure the property is in good condition and is worth the investment.

No two home inspectors are alike, and the buyer’s home inspector may be more thorough when evaluating your property. If the buyer’s inspection uncovers issues that were not addressed beforehand, it could lead to negotiations for repairs or a reduction in the sale price. You, as the seller, might also have to make even more home improvements before the home sale is official.

Should You Get A Pre-Listing Inspection?

Your best course of action is to consult with a listing agent and seek their professional opinion. They can explain the best practices and offer insights into what other sellers in the area are doing. Before deciding whether to get a pre-inspection, consider the age and condition of your home. You might also consider your budget and timeline for selling the house.

If you’re unsure, keep in mind that a pre-inspection can provide valuable information about your property’s condition. The process can help you address any issues with the house before selling, and can ultimately help you sell the house at a more competitive price.

The Bottom Line: A Pre-Inspection Can Both Create And Solve Problems

If you’re selling a house in a seller’s market, buyers are often more willing to waive the home inspection contingency to submit a more competitive offer. However, obtaining a pre-listing home inspection can be a game-changer. It allows sellers to identify and address potential issues with the house upfront, which could lead to smoother transactions and stronger offers.

If you’re ready to sell your house and buy a new home, you might want to consider your financing options. Fill out an application to start the mortgage approval process today.

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Jamie Johnson

Jamie Johnson is a Kansas City-based freelance writer who writes about a variety of personal finance topics, including loans, building credit, and paying down debt. She currently writes for clients like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Insider, and Bankrate.